Doctors tell you that the key to a positive breast cancer prognosis is ‘early detection’. However, one of the biggest impediments to early detection is not necessarily discovering the lump and taking action by going a doctor, it’s simply getting the right diagnosis and the right treatment fast enough.
Sure, a lot of woman may fly through the process from start to finish, and for them it’s all done in about 2 weeks from the time they’ve had the first mammogram to the time they’re sitting in a chemo chair. But, those women tend to be in their 50’s, they tend to have preexisting risk factors, or genetic markers which prompt doctors to test for breast cancer immediately.
This is no consolation for us 20 , 30 and 40 year olds, who are not ‘supposed’ to get breast cancer so young. We just get a quick feel, and told “It’s probably an infection, take these antibiotics and see me in two weeks”. Then, when the infection doesn’t go away, they test for cysts, then fibroids. After several months of this nonsense, we finally get sent to a breast clinic for a clinical diagnosis . The whole process can take anywhere from three to six months, and sometimes years , after they’ve ruled out a very other possible benign condition from warts to shingles, to phantom pregnancy! By that time your pea size tumor turns into a stage 3 goose egg that’s gone into your lymph nodes, and instead of a simple skin sparing lumpectomy and a few round of rads, you’re now getting a complete radical mastectomy , 8 rounds of chemo and 25 rounds of radiation.
It’s maddening to say the least, that there are still a lot of doctors out there living in the 60s thinking young women don’t get breast cancer, who need to step into the 21rst century and get with the program.
This is ridiculous. Why are young women consistently dismissed with fibroademonas , before they’re given a comprehensive assessment which includes a clinical assessment, such as FNA ,ultrasound, mammogram and MRI?
This is the KEY to early detection is early diagnosis!
RULE OUT CANCER FIRST- then work your way down the benign list of infections, cysts and moles. Not the other way around.
If you have a lump in your breast or in your armpit, if you have discoloration, dimpling, discharge, or pain in your breast or chest area, if you have the slightest concern over changes in your breasts, if you can feel a lump but the mammograms and ultrasounds show negative for cancer:
- Do not accept physician complacency
- Do not accept the ‘all clear’, without a proper clinical exam by a qualified breast specialist- your GP is not a specialist and not qualified to diagnose cancer or rule it out. You may be relieved to get the all clear and be tempted to leave well enough alone, but it could be a false negative.
- All lumps should be biopsied surgically or through fine needle aspiration to rule out cancer to rule out cancer.
- Treat every lump and change as if it actually were cancer and act accordingly
- Do not wait more than 1 week for appointments with specialists and tests.
- Do not wait more than 2-3 days for test results.
Paranoid much? You’re damn straight I am! And I couldn’t give a rat’s ass if all this extra testing places an additional cost burden on the health care system. There are plenty of people out there using up all the health care dollars that shouldn’t be entitled to it at all, and I’m supposed to feel bad and be the frugal one? Bullshit! The day smokers, extreme sports enthusiasts, and the morbidly obese pay extra health care premiums is the day I will pay for extra for my MRIs and feel guilty for insisting on the the gold standard of care in cancer treatment.
So, let the doctor’s roll their eyes , let them think we’re a bunch of hypochondriacs, let them get offended at your audacity to question their impeccable judgment. If your doctor does not cooperate or brushes you off, get another doctor. If you can’t get another doctor, go clinic to clinic until someone gets you an appointment at a breast diagnostic clinic. At the end of the day, you’re the one that’s going to end up in the chemo chair. So no one has the right to tell you not be so paranoid and not to ask so many questions.
You are your own best advocate, no one’s going to go to bat for you but you.